Author Alistair McBride

Website
http://www.selfassemblysites.com
Profile

Al is the non-techie of the SelfAssemblySites' founding duo. His first businesses were in cultural tours, then later art dealing and consulting. He was SelfAssemblySites' first user and believes if he can do it, anyone can.

He has a wide and diverse range of interests and passions, core of which are usually art, psychology and innovation, and works on both profit and non-profit projects.

Alistair truly believes that a website can be a catalyst to making any idea reality in the 21st Century. You can create all sorts of non-profit and for profit projects take-off with a good website as your launch pad.

Follow him on Twitter at @WebsiteCoaching.

Recent posts by Alistair


Web News Round Up – March 9

"Late Shift" (Image: Dilbert.com)

In this week’s Week News Round Up we look at how the US can seize any .com domain, why Google gives cash to hackers, the benefits of levitating Japanese homes and Pinterest surprises many by referring more than Twitter.

If It Ends In .Com the US Can Seize It

The betting website Bodog.com was recently shut down by US authorities. What surprised most was the fact that it was Canadian and so many had believed that it was outside US jurisdiction. It seems this is not the case. VeriSign manages the registration of .com and other top level domains globally and since it’s based in United States it obeys the law and complies with US Court Orders. The popular .net and .org managing bodies are also in the US and can be similarly effected. Read the article.

Google Throws Cash at Hackers to Publicly Crack its Chrome Browser

Google has offered cash prizes to anyone who is able to hack their browser in an effort to ensure Chrome is as safe as possible. The prize money has been on the table for the last four years but it’s only this week that they’ve had to pay out. The talented individual was a Russian university student. Read the article.

Levitating Homes A Possible Solution to Japan’s Natural Disasters

Training vs Learning: Computer Science in Schools

The Difference Between Learning and Training

Learning is usually an open format for exploration, without absolutely specific goals, knowledge for the sake of knowledge. It’s what we learn in schools and universities, we learn the curriculum as foundation for further expansion of knowledge.  Learning is about levels of knowledge, which in academics merit different grades.

Training is usually about specific skills and “doing”. At the end of a training course participants should be able to complete distinct tasks or functions, have developed skills they didn’t have before.

There is a growing belief from some in Britain, such as the £2bn a year computer games industry and UK Education Minister Michael Gove, that computer science should be offered in the curriculum of second level education. It’s interesting to see if it will be a traditional learning course or greater integration with aspects of training.

Raspberry Pi Gives a Taste for Coding

Web News Round Up – March 2nd

In this week’s Web News Round Up we look at the 3 most innovative social networks, see how Twitter is pairing its interest graph with ads, find out how you can charge your phone by breathing and we look for the ultimate spaghetti sauce!

"Study" (image: Xkcd.com)

The 3 Most Innovative Social Networks According to Inc.com

Every day, new and exciting platforms emerge for distributing great ideas, products and answers, and the boundaries keep getting pushed further out each year. Flavour a soft drink, community feedback on your big product idea and quality answers to nearly any question. Read the article.

How Twitter Is Pairing Its Interest Graph With Ads

Unlike Facebook which knows vast amounts of your personal information, Twitter on the other hand knows nothing of where you’re based, your age or where you went to school. Instead it knows who you follow, what you like and link to, so it will be enlightening to see how successful this information model is for advertisers compared with Facebook. Bloomberg’s Brad Stone accurately describes the data Twitter collects as “both revealing and non-invasive”. Read the article.

Charge Your Phone by Simply Breathing

Designer João Paulo Lammoglia created the AIRE Mask which is outfitted with small wind turbine-like system to help convert your breaths into energy. The mask is also made to be used both indoors and outdoors, so you can charge your phone while you sleep or while you’re out for a jogging exercise.

Warning: What You Need to Know About the New Facebook Ads

Last week Facebook announced a radical new direction for their entire advertising policy. Some have stated it’s one of the most significant changes for advertisers and consumers in the internet age. We’re going to explore what will be rolled out and some of the core and key implications for all parties; you the Facebook user, the advertisers and for Facebook itself.

In a nutshell, Facebook will make ads into conversations, and you’ll be told which friends have already supported which brands and news messages. As FastCompany put it:

Facebook is making the new ads social by default… the new formats will draw their content exclusively from posts to brands’ Facebook Pages, rather from advertising copy written independently

This is a clear shift away from traditional honed and tested copy to more natural and social content based advertising. They’ve already started working in this area with ‘Sponsored Stories’ for some time now but this is a whole new departure as they’re phasing out almost all traditional ad formats from Wednesday 29th February. Essentially the thinking from the Facebook document is that “everything starts with great content…paid, owned and earned work seamlessly together”.

All of these new developments were recently leaked and were first published by GigaOm and from there were published onto Scribd: (click ‘Fullscreen’ button below to View)

Web News Round Up – 24th Feb

Dilbert.com

Economics of Freemium

Click To View Full Size

Hot Off The Press

Facebook’s New, Entirely Social Ads “Will Recreate Marketing” : Leaked documents show Facebook making a radical departure from traditional online display advertising into a world where ads are conversations and brands automatically tell you which of your friends are already on their side. Facebook is making the new ads social by default, meaning they will automatically show users when their friends have already Liked the advertiser. And the new formats will draw their content exclusively from posts to brands’ Facebook Pages, rather from advertising copy written independently.

Mobile Games & The Economics of Freemium: Where’s the money in creating a game and then giving it away for free? This nifty infographic, on right, explores and explains all.

Clothes Horse Online Shopping Makes Sure Clothes Fit: Bad customer experiences due to clothes not fitting  has led to “70% shopping cart abandonment” and “60% of customers returning items because they don’t fit”.  But one company may have found a solution.

A Plane You Can Drive (TED Video): A flying car is an iconic image of the future. But after 100 years of flight and automotive engineering, no one has really cracked the problem, until now. Pilot and MIT graduate Anna Mracek Dietrich and her team flipped the question, asking: Why not build a plane that you can drive?

Why You Still Need a Website Not Just a Facebook Page

One thing that we hear occasionally is “why do I need a website these days, can I not just use a Facebook page?”. The simple answer is you can do what you like, but if you want to do well, you’d be best investing in a good website, and also having a Facebook page in your arsenal. Why do either when you can do both?

It should be clarified that this is not a Facebook bashing article, I actually quite like FB for social catch ups as well as for business growth and feedback, not to mention chuckling at witty comments and reminding me of birthdays. However context is everything.

Control & Scope

Web News Round Up – 17th Feb

"More Accurate" Property of Xkcd.com

 

Apple App Store Logo

App Economy Creates Nearly 500k Jobs in US: Before the iPhone there was no app industry, but with the meteoric expansion of it and rival devices, the sector now employs in the region of half a million people in the United States alone.

Flexible Screens Have Arrived: C3Nano, a company that makes transparent, flexible screens has secured a round of funding worth $6.7, and is building relationships in Japan and Korea with giants such as Samsung. The technology boasts it’s robust and cost effective. (Includes demo video)

StartUp May Save Businesses Fortunes in Legal Costs: Technology has limited, changed or destroyed many long established industries, now it might be the turn of the legal professions to take a battering, having to compete with technological solutions to some of its core business practices.

The World’s Smallest 3D Printer (Video): What could you do with the world’s smallest 3D printer? At TEDxVienna Klaus Stadlmann demos his tiny, affordable printer that could someday make customized hearing aids or sculptures smaller than a human hair.

Upstart vs Startup: What’s The Difference?

‘Upstart Business’ is a phrase that seems to be creeping into the journalistic language used on tech and entrepreneurial blogs in the US. The first time I heard it I thought the writer was simply playing with the normal term ‘startup’ to be witty and focus on a particularly ballsy and inspiring effort of a young entrepreneur. Then a week or two later I read it again elsewhere. This got me thinking: Was ‘upstart’ just a meme that one clever writer used once and then suddenly caught on with the blogging fraternity or is it now a well known and accepted term? More to the point does its origin matter and is it more important to ask which is better?

Googling the term, you get a myriad of results. Many are for business or consultancy related groups and services that use the ‘upstart’ interchangeably with ‘startup’.

The online dictionary definitions which appear are all similar to this one:

n. A person of humble origin who attains sudden wealth, power, or importance, especially one made immodest or presumptuous by the change; a parvenu.

adj. 1. Suddenly raised to a position of consequence.
2. Self-important; presumptuous.

Reading between the lines in the tech blogs it appears that the difference is this; ‘Startups’ are entrepreneurial businesses that begin with external funding from venture capital from their inception. However, ‘Upstart’ businesses begin without significant external funding, just savings and personal loans from friends and family and usually the founders maintain all equity. This is in keeping with the upstart definition, springing from humble origins to wealth, rather than having lots of cash to play with before you have a customer.

A Big Upstart

Felix Dennis, Author of How to Get Rich (Image: BBC)

Felix Dennis, Author of How to Get Rich (Image: BBC)

Felix Dennis, author of the refreshingly direct, ‘How to Get Rich’, is very much in the upstart mould and believes a business owner should do everything in their power to hold on to the most equity possible. Each percentage of equity you manage to own, could be worth millions when you eventually sell your business. In one chapter he describes how two important employees at his magazine demanded a small share of the business or they’d start a rival publication.

He instantly called their bluff, fired them and wished them well in their new venture. Within a few years their business was bust and they were back working for him, no hard feelings. When he sold up and moved on, that tiny percentage they had demanded was worth millions; his baby, his millions. Dennis put it in uncompromising terms:

Talent is indispensable, although it is always replaceable.

Just remember the simple rules concerning talent:

Identify It, Hire It, Nurture It, Reward It, Protect It. And when the time comes, Fire It.

Web News Round Up – 10th Feb

The Oatmeal - What I want from a restaurant website (click to view full image)

The Oatmeal - What I want from a restaurant website (click to view full image)

Image by Carrot Creative

Twitter is More Addictive than Nicotine: People are more likely to give in to the urge to tweet or check email than other cravings a US study has found, making it more addictive than both alcohol and cigarettes. Could it just be that twitter isn’t as obviously costly or damaging to your health?

Beijing Micro Bloggers Must Use Real Name or Be Banned: The Chinese government says all microbloggers in Beijing must post under their real names by March 16 or they’ll be banned from the service. The move from the Chinese government is the latest in a series of ways they want to monitor and curtail social media activity in their country.

When the SuperBowl Bored Americans, They Opened Apps: At the less captivating moments of this year’s Super Bowl audiences turned to their second screens, you can see clearly which ads and which game play were captivating and hit the mark and which fumbled and dropped the ball.

YouTube Expands Channels Initiative: Last October, Google announced it would begin rolling out over 100 new channels featuring original programming across YouTube, turning the site focus from one-off videos into a major online content destination, two new automotive channels are its latest offering.

 

 

 

 

Web News Round Up – 3rd Feb

"Potential" - From Xkcd.com

"Potential" - from Xkcd.com

Facebook Files for $5bn IPO: Only eight years after creating the site from his Harvard dorm room, Mark Zuckerberg’s stake in Facebook is $28bn, the full value of the company estimated to be £100bn.

What Will Facebook Do With All That Money?: The social giant will have raised an astounding $2.8 billion. What in the world will Facebook buy with all that cash?

Parking Sensors to Take Pain Out of Finding a Space: A “parking patch” could bring together wireless sensors and mobile apps to steer drivers towards vacant spots, and lead traffic wardens to parking offenders.

We Are All Cyborgs (TED Video): Technology is evolving us, says Amber Case, as we become a screen-staring, button-clicking new version of homo sapiens. We now rely on “external brains” (cell phones and computers) to communicate, remember, even live out secondary lives. But will these machines ultimately connect or conquer us? Case offers surprising insight into our cyborg selves.

 

 

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